ICC Review
HIROSE+MINATO The Future of Virtual Reality
and Telepresence

HIROSE Michitaka{ MINATO Chihiro

Positioning Virtual Reality and

MINATO Chihiro (MC) : Firstly, I'd like to ask how you see virtual reality (VR) relative to telepresence?

HIROSE Michitaka (HM) : When you say "VR," there are typically two things which you are referring to. The first is what we might describe as the narrower meaning of VR, a world of total fantasy. Computers simulating worlds which do not actually exist, and that sort of thing. The other, or broader meaning of the word "VR" is when computers are employed to mediate experiences between actual places, which then comes to include concepts such as telepresence.
Yet, if you begin by considering the individual's existence, you can see that VR can be considered a form of telepresence, because first you have the individual present in a place, yet facilitated to experience other worlds. In other words, when this "other world" actually exists, this becomes telepresence in the narrow sense of the word, while when this "other world" is a virtual computer simulation, it becomes VR in the narrow sense of the word. Depending on the perspective, we might say that either includes the other, or even that they are mutually inclusive.

MC : In other words, reality and virtuality are not clearly delineated; rather, reality is revealed to be composed of many layers, and the means for traversing them are discovered through applications of VR technology.

HM : That's why I use the word "telepresence."

MC : When using the word "telepresence"it is important to first define what you mean by "presence. "This" presence"phenomenon is not in itself self-apparent. We've until now chiefly thought of presence in terms of visual perception, but there is obviously much more to it than that, such as described by "affordance,"and other ways of thinking about pre-apprehensive phenomena. It is for this reason that we need to reconsider what we mean when we say that "human beings exist,"or that "things exist, and what humans recognize are often them. "Once we've done this, telepresence ceases to be a mere technology. Rather, it is an opportunity to gain a new approach to how we look at culture--human cognition and perceived experience.

HM : I find it interesting that the original concept of VR came from the field of software engineering, whereas the concept of telepresence came from remote control robot. In this sense, it comes from the field of engineering, and I find it interesting that it is called to the service of artistic endeavors (such as the attendant ICC telepresence exhibition Portable Sacred Grounds).

MC : I agree. Also that a concept from such a specialized field came to inversely embrace all of culture.

HM : Seen from a technician's viewpoint, "VR" seems to be a broader word, whereas "telepresence" is an extremely limited technical term. Yet it is not clear which carries the conceptually broader meaning, which includes the other in its phylum....

MC : Again, this exchangeable, mutually inclusive structure which you mentioned earlier.

HM : More like they're chasing each other's tails. (laughs)

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